‘County lines’ crack­down

Po­lice: English crime gangs ped­dling drugs us­ing chil­dren in ru­ral Scot­land

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY DANIEL BOAL

Po­lice say that English crime gangs are us­ing schoolchil­dren to sell class A drugs as they tar­get ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties in Scot­land.

The force is­sued the warn­ing fol­low­ing a re­cent crack­down on crooks who are prey­ing on vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in the High­lands, Perthshire and Aberdeen­shire to run their il­le­gal en­ter­prise.

It has now emerged that deal­ers have been us­ing young­sters to move the il­le­gal sub­stances in ru­ral ar­eas.

Young peo­ple, of­ten those who have been through the care sys­tem, are tricked into mov­ing pack­ages for money and are of­ten un­aware of their con­tents.

Last week, six men and two women were ar­rested and more than £30,000 worth of drugs was seized as po­lice tack­led the prob­lem.

Of­fi­cers vis­ited 18 ad­dresses dur­ing the op­er­a­tion to ad­dress “cuck­oo­ing”, a prac­tice where the homes of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple are taken over to stash cash, drugs and guns.

At least one such adult was iden­ti­fied by the po­lice dur­ing the swoop.

One bladed weapon was re­cov­ered and £2,560 in cash was con­fis­cated dur­ing the op­er­a­tion.

North East MSP and Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive shadow jus­tice sec­re­tary Liam Kerr last night praised the suc­cess of the probe.

He said: “Cuck­oo­ing has a hor­ren­dous ef­fect on vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple.

“Foil­ing these op­er­a­tions re­quires in­ten­sive co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Po­lice Scot­land and col­leagues in the English con­stab­u­lar­ies.”

Over the last few years, there has been a rise in gangs from Mersey­side flood­ing the north of Scot­land with drugs.

In re­cent months po­lice have stepped up their ef­forts to tackle “county lines” crimes, re­fer­ring to crooks from ma­jor cities who ex­pand their drugs net­works to other ar­eas.

The term refers to the use of a sin­gle tele­phone num­ber to or­der drugs, which is op­er­ated re­motely.

Crimestop­pers says it has seen a 600% rise in Scot­tish “county lines”-re­lated calls from Jan­uary to Septem­ber this year com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2018.

Il­le­gal drugs have had a dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect on Scot­tish com­mu­ni­ties with 1,187 deaths linked to sub­stance abuse last year.

STASHES: The lat­est po­lice raids in com­mu­ni­ties in the north-east have been aimed at tack­ling cuck­oo­ing in vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple’s homes

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